The first bomb threat was written on Monday, and on Thursday afternoon an almost identical threat was found on the same Cherokee bathroom wall.
The bogus threats come on the heels of a series of apparent social media threats of violence at Dobyns-Bennett High School as well as at Elizabethton High School this week.
Based on the wording and style of Cherokee’s messages, Hixson said it’s likely both were written by the a same person.
Both basically said, “I'm going to release a bomb” with no other details, and Hixson noted that both threats were immediately deemed to be bogus.
Although the threats weren’t credible, school officials and the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office still have protocols that must be carried out.
“If deemed credible, appropriate student safety actions are taken, including but not limited to evacuations of immediate areas, or of the entire campus,” Hixson told the Times News Thursday. “However, if deemed non-credible and generic in nature, students are kept in the classrooms until the perpetrator and/or safety hazard is isolated, and student instructional interruptions are minimized as much as possible.”
Hixson added, “Right now, the intent appears to be to cause disruptions to the school operation.”
Cherokee’s restrooms are swept for graffiti and other inappropriate behavior at specific times throughout the day.
Based on that schedule, school officials know approximately when the threats were written. As of Thursday afternoon, school administrators were using video surveillance near the restrooms to narrow a list of suspects.
Hixson said he has spoken to other superintendents in the area about the recent rash of bogus school threats, which are not only disrupting school, but also tying up law enforcement resources.
The consensus among area school administrators is that they need to make an example of the culprits once they’re caught.
“If and when we find out who is responsible, we’re going to bring the hammer down,” Hixson said. “As far as we know, there’s no link between our incidents and what’s going on in Kingsport and other areas. But with kids as active as they are on social media, it’s catching popularity and it’s spreading. Especially when it gets media attention and makes headlines.”
Hixson added, “If by chance the perpetrator reads this article, they need to know that we’re going to react within the full letter of school policy and the law when we catch who is doing it.”